Sheila Kitchen, (conferred )

I am broadly interested in understanding unique cellular processes and molecular pathways involved in microorganism communication with their environment or host. In 2010, I entered the Weis lab where my Ph.D. research interests are centered on investigating the mechanisms involved in cell signaling processes in marine symbiotic cnidarians during symbiont uptake and coral bleaching. Communication through cell signaling allows the cnidarians host and its endosymbiotic algae to perceive and respond to their microenvironment initiating homeostasis, inter- and intracellular recognition, immunity, and apoptosis mechanisms yet this processes are still poorly understood in this system. Specifically, my current research will address manipulations of the sphinosine rheostat by the symbiotic algae during infection and how this is connected to important secondary messengers like calcium within the host cell. Furthermore, my project will address the changes of the sphingosine rheostat and cytosolic calcium during symbiosis breakdown.  I completed my B.S. in Marine Biology with Honors from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2007, where I studied the innervation of dorsoventral muscles in the pteropod mollusc, Clione limacina in regulating wing stiffness during swim acceleration. In 2010, I received my Master’s degree from the University of North Carolina Wilmington under the direction of Dr. Alison Taylor. My thesis project explored the role of brevetoxinsas an allelopathic mechanism between the prolific harmful algae species, Karenia brevis and other non-toxic phytoplankton. My website: